What's in your radius?

Sounds like a personal question and as an educator it should be…personal…quite personal. Let me explain. Several years ago I was sitting in a staff meeting at a college prep. private school in Texas. We had just acquired a new administrator and he was pulling out all stops to get us motivated for the next school year. On his power point presentation, he placed a map showing a 10 mile radius from our school. All schools within that circle had been pinned. He then asked us these questions:

  1. What makes us different from those schools?

  2. What can we offer that those schools can’t?

  3. What sets our classrooms apart from those classrooms?

That last question I took personally…quite personally. What can I do to set MY classroom apart from those classrooms? MY classroom could be placed on a higher echelon by my attitude, my preparedness and my pursuit of excellence. I learned those attributes aren’t dictated by budget. They aren’t dictated by curriculum or even environment. Those attributes will naturally germinate in the heart of an educator who sets their internal standards high: attitude, preparedness, excellence.

Now, others might not think being “just” the elementary art teacher was important. The fact is, it didn’t matter what others thought. I embraced my charge as the elementary art teacher and made it a priority. My goal morphed into offering the best art education product within a 10 mile radius of my classroom. Through that personal goal, through that obsession, a new art curriculum was conceived, developed and implemented. The curriculum proved to be highly successful and launched My classroom to the top of the list.

What’s in your radius? What can you do to make your classroom the benchmark for effective education? What personal standards would you need to ascribe to make YOUR classroom the paradigm for other educators in your radius?